Thermal infrared imagery from several satellite instruments, such as the NOAA AVHRR and the NASA MODIS, is presently used to detect and map forest fires. But while these radiometers can identify fires they are designed and optimized for cloud detection, providing relatively low spatial resolution and quickly saturating even for small fires. Efforts to detect and monitor forest fires from space would benefit from the development of single-sensor satellites designed specifically for this purpose. With the advent of uncooled thermal detectors, and thus the absence of aggressive cooling, the possibility of developing small satellites for the purpose of fire detection and monitoring becomes practical and cost-effective. Thus is the case with the Economical Microbolometer Based Environmental Radiometer Satellite (EMBERSat) program. The objective of this program is to develop a single, prototype satellite that will provide multiband thermal imagery with a spatial resolution of 250m and a dynamic range of 300-1000K. The thermal imaging payload has flight heritage in the Infrared Spectral Imaging Radiometer that flew aboard mission STS-85 and the spacecraft is a variant of the SimpleSat bus launched from the shuttle Columbia as part of STS-105. The EMBERSat program is a technology demonstration initiative with the eventual goal of providing high-resolution thermal imagery to both the scientific community and the public.